Puppy Scams Are Breaking Hearts During Coronavirus Lockdown

Puppy Scams Are Breaking Hearts During Coronavirus Lockdown

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If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog to keep you company, be cautious. Puppy scams are on the rise during the coronavirus quarantine.

How the Scam Works

People who are stuck at home–particularly those with bored, lonely kids–are turning to internet marketplaces in search of a new puppy. Since many people are stuck at home now, it seems like a great time to train and bond with a pet.

Unfortunately, that’s just what the scammers are counting on.

Scam websites pretending to be breeders, as well as bogus social media and marketplace posts, claim to have puppies for sale. They use fake photos to tempt their marks. They may also offer deals that are too good to pass up. After all, the only thing better than an adorable little puppy is saving $500 on said puppy.

But when it comes time to receive your new family member, one of two things happens. Either the “breeder” ghosts you, or they try to keep squeezing more cash. For example, they may claim that there’s an issue with fake COVID-19 travel permits or transportation crates that you need to cover.

Most heartbreaking of all, even if you pay all the fees you still won’t get a puppy. And you probably won’t get your money back, either.

President of the Better Business Bureau Richard Eppstein said: “There’s no breeders, there’s no dogs. The whole thing is a setup to get your money.”

That’s the harsh truth of these scams. Eppstein claims that up to 85% of the puppies listed online were actually fakes.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed

It is possible to get a new puppy during the coronavirus lockdown, but you need to be smart about it.

First, contact your local animal shelters and rescue groups about fostering or adopting. While you likely won’t find a purebred puppy, you can save the life of a needy pet–and save a lot of money, too.

If you prefer to buy a puppy, take the following precautions:

  • Buy local. If you can meet with the breeder in person, it greatly reduces the chances that you’re being scammed. Many of the fraudulent postings are made by scammers living overseas.
  • Pay with a credit card or personal check. Scammers hate it when people pay with traceable methods. They will almost always ask you to pay with a gift card or money order.
  • Ask for paperwork. Before you put any money down, you should ask to see the puppy’s paperwork, certifications, and medical history. Real breeders will be able to produce this paperwork; fake ones will give you excuses.